REVIEW: Johnny Cash – American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002)

cash.jpgIt has been said that Johnny Cash is not the most technically correct singer, and while this may be true, this should not be taken as a negative criticism. The vulnerability and emotion conveyed by his voice is one of his strengths as an artist. His voice has an earthy raw appeal which imbues his songs with real beauty and the sound of a life that has been lived, rich in experience of both the good times and the bad.

‘The Man Comes Around’ is the fourth album in the American Recordings series produced by the amazing Rick Rubin. The album contains a blend of Cash originals like ‘The Man Comes Around’, covers of classics like ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ and ‘Danny Boy’, and renditions of unexpected songs like Nine Inch Nails ‘Hurt’ and The Beatles ‘In My Life’. The covers have not merely been rehashed, Cash has taken each song and completely made them his own. Musical accompaniment on all tracks is kept to the barest minimum, allowing Cash’s voice to take centre stage.

Singing ‘I Hung My Head’ the emotion in Cash’s voice is palpable and it catches at the heart as he explores shades of pain and regret. At times his voice stands bare without noticeable musical backing and it is at these times that his vocals are at their spine tingling best, creating a story which resonates with the soul. The poignant ‘In My Life’ builds an atmosphere filled with the feelings of sorrow and reflection. With Cash’s voice catching in parts this is a song to clutch at your chest and tear at your heart.

The country echoes of ‘Desperado’ are delivered with a rough and ready vocal which provides the perfect complement to the poetic lyrics. The album’s closing song ‘We’ll Meet Again’ is heartbreakingly beautiful and given sensitive, yet sad treatment by Cash. It is a song which provides a fitting close but makes you wish you didn’t have to say goodbye.

Each song on this album offers listeners an emotional journey which both reflects on the past and looks forward to the future. Dealing with the journeys of life and death Cash has created an album that speaks directly to the core of what it is to be human.


If you’d like to experience this album for yourself, I have one brand spanking new copy up for grabs (wherever you are in the world). All you have to do is leave a comment to this post telling me why this album would make a welcome addition to your CD collection. The winner will be chosen at random and contacted by email. The competition closes midnight 30 December 2006 (AEST).

Thanks to everyone for all your wonderful entries, the competition is now closed and the winner (Anne) has been contacted by email.


  1. Kyle Korleski

    I do not wish to own the album seeing as I loathe country music and it would only serve as a coaster.

  2. El Charolastra

    loved him.
    and love him.

  3. Ariel Smith

    You walk the line hahaha

  4. Tracey

    Hi El Charolastra – I just wish I had discovered him sooner. I’ve got to make up for lost time now!!

    Hi Ariel – Thanks. With your message you reminded me of an Angel episode…

  5. Anne

    I have always loved Johnny, I come from a country town and he was always my parents favorite so I was raised to love his music and it continues today. I would love a copy of this album, since my parents Johnny items were all records or cassettes, I can start a new collection for my children to enjoy his music. His music is timeless, like all the greats, he holds a very special place in music history.

  6. Derek

    Because any man that sings country and it that f**g cool belongs in every record collection.

  7. Tim Ross

    Im a new comer to Cash’s music…Thanks to Nineinch Nails and the cover of Hurt that the man in black did….better than the original I think.

    Im not normally a fan of covers, but Cash has changed my mind.

    The man was obviously a genious and a timeless one at that.

  8. Tracey

    Hi Anne – Lovely to see you wishing to bring Johnny Cash to a new generation.

    Hi Derek – I couldn’t agree more with your sentiment.

    Hi Tim – Me too! It took me a while to discover him, but now I think he’s one of my all time favourite artists.

  9. Guy

    I really don’t like country, but I love Cash. Some of his songs, ecspecially his later ones, are really powerful.

  10. J.M. Snyder

    Hey there 🙂 I grew up on country and Johnny Cash was and still is one of the greatest artists of all time. I have this CD already in my collection 🙂 It rocks!

  11. Naina Pandita

    For someone in India, Johnny Cash introduced to enjoyable country music! 🙂

  12. Tracey

    Hi Guy – I know exactly how you feel. Though I feel that as time goes by the country bug may bite!!

    Hi JM Synder – So glad you enjoy it as much as I do. I just think he’s an amazing talent.

    Hi Naina – It’s nice that Johnny has so much international appeal. Thanks for your comments!!

  13. Anne

    I was the very lucky winner of the Johnny Cash CD and I would like to thank Tracey very much for it. I was amazed to find so many of my favorite songs were sung by Johnny (added bonus), I was thinking more along the song I remember my mum and dad playing on the record player, so to find ones like Bridge over troubled water and tear stained letter there with some of my old time fav’s like Desperado was just awesome, even the kids were excited to sit down and have a listen.

    So thank you very much for adding a little bit of Johnny to our lives, I have a suspicion there will be a few more cd’s added shortly…


  14. Tracey

    Hi Anne – So happy that you love the album and it sounds like your collection won’t have to wait too long for companionship. Johnny Cash is such a wonderful talent, and it sounds like you’re most definitely an admirer. Cheers!

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